SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has joined other MPs at Westminster in welcoming a study by the University of Edinburgh which states that 67 per cent of 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland would participate in an election if given the opportunity to do so.
Figures released in the same study (carried out following the Scottish independence referendum) also suggest that the expected participation level would be 39 per cent in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Mr Durkan, who has consistently called for 16 and 17 year olds to be given the vote in all elections (including the upcoming EU referendum), said: “I welcome this study which highlights that significant numbers of 16 and 17 year olds would vote if given the opportunity. Many of us were absolutely transfixed and excited by the referendum debates in Scotland.
“Through the independence referendum young people there have experienced a level of civic engagement and debate which should be encouraged by ensuring that in all future elections and referenda the franchise is extended to all 16 and 17 year olds throughout the UK. This extension should also include the upcoming EU referendum – a decision which will affect future generations in particular.”
Mr. Durkan continued: “In the past, I have tabled amendments to legislation to give the Northern Ireland Assembly that power in respect of its own elections and those for local government, and I have voted for such an earlier franchise at Westminster.
“16 is the age at which many of our young people start to make real decisions about their lives and many significant rights come into play. They can pay taxes, join armies and get married, so denying them a vote is simply inconsistent.”